Acute aerobic exercise alters executive control network in preadolescent children

Ai-guo Chen, Li-Na Zhu, Xuan Xiong, Yue Li


The present study aimed to investigate the effect of acute aerobic exercise on executive function (EF) and executive control network (ECN) in preadolescent children, and further explored the neural basis of acute aerobic exercise on EF in these children. We used a within-subjects design with a counterbalanced order. Nine healthy, right-handed children were scanned with resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging and performed an EF task both in baseline session and exercise session. The exercise session was consisted of 30 minutes of aerobic exercise on a bicycle ergometer at 60% of their estimated maximum heart rate. Compared with the baseline session, acute aerobic exercise benefitted performance in the EF task, increased the functional connectivity between right dorsolateral prefrontal and left cerebellum, further, the increment of functional connectivity was negatively correlated with the EF’ s behavioral performance change. These findings suggest that acute aerobic exercise enhances children’s EF, and the neural basis may be related to functional connectivity changes in the ECN elicited by acute aerobic exercise.

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